We are now accepting applications. Click here to apply. The application is free. The deadline is May 15. But space is limited -- for years, we've had to turn away award-winning, state-champion competitors. We admit students on a rolling basis, so those who apply early often stand a better chance.
Email with any questions.
How it works
Each trial features exactly two attorneys (one per side) and two witnesses (one per side). The judge and jury score everything head to head. The two attorneys are compared to one another, and the two witnesses are compared to one another.
There are four rounds. During those four rounds, each Gladiator will performs each role once: prosecutor, defense attorney, prosecution witness, and defense witness. Placement is based on results from all four trials, with much greater weight on attorney performance.
After four trials, the two highest-scoring competitors square off as attorneys in the championship round (we provide the witnesses for the final). The winner is crowned best in the world.
Are you the Best in the World?
GLADIATOR showcases the best high school mock trial competitors anywhere. Since 2015, we've hosted more than 200 competitors from 22 states and 5 countries. They represent schools that have won county, state, and national championships. And they don't just compete for those teams; they star for those teams: collectively, these Gladiators have won more than 500 attorney and witness awards.
GLADIATOR is not a team tournament. It's one-on-one. Your teammates, coaches, and family can help you prepare, but once you enter the courtroom, you have no co-counsel. It's you against everyone else.
The winner gets the most iconic trophy in mock trial -- a life-size replica Gladiator helmet -- and the title of Best in the World.
Applications are now open! Click here to apply by May 15. Any high school mock trial competitor is eligible, including those graduating this season (in other words, students are eligible to compete in GLADIATOR during the first summer after they graduate high school).
We've updated Gladiator 2020 so everyone can participate despite the public health situation.
All trials on Zoom. We've tested multiple trial procedures to find the ones that work best.
A case written specifically for an online competition. This year's case will have video and audio exhibits.
Assistance from co-counsel. While attorneys still compete 1-on-1, this year they can have assistance during trial from a "second chair" -- a (silent) co-counsel who is in charge of displaying exhibits and demonstrative aids, and who is permitted to communicate with the Gladiator. Any current student from the Gladiator's high school may serve as second chair. We have added a second chair for two reasons: (a) we want attorneys to be able to focus on their oral advocacy, not sharing their screens and managing exhibits; and (b) given the cancellation of so many tournaments, we want to include as many students as possible.
Reduced registration fee. We have reduced the fee from $695 to $495. And, of course, no one has any travel or hotel costs. We hope this will make it easier for everyone to participate.
Everything else remains the same: July 24-26. Same 1-on-1 format. Awards for top competitors. Helmet trophy for our world champion. Red Gladiator t-shirts for all participants (delivered to your door).
Friday, GLADIATOR kicks off with a Welcome Dinner on the beach so the Gladiators and their families can get to know one another. Saturday is at the courthouse for rounds one, two, and three. Sunday we're back at the courthouse for round four, the semifinals, the awards ceremony, and the playoff rounds. We usually finish around 4 pm, and most families fly out that night.
For 2020, the Welcome Ceremony and trials will be online.
Here are our GLADIATOR champions posing with the trophy and tournament director Justin Bernstein (Megan Jones in 2015, Andy Parker in 2016, Audrey Shepard in 2017, and Tiffany Tam in 2018, Abby Branham in 2019). You can watch the championship trials on our Stand Up Mock Trial YouTube page.
GLADIATOR will feature a brand new case specifically created for a one-on-one world championship: short enough to prepare in a month, complex enough to distinguish the best. The case will be written by Justin Bernstein, author of 18 mock trial cases, including four used at Empire and seven used for national competition. The case will include actual physical evidence (see a few examples above).
We release the case one month before GLADIATOR (after the mock trial season and school year).
GLADIATOR 2020 is July 24-26. All trials will be in a courthouse. The tournament hotel and courthouse are less than two miles from John Wayne International Ariport (Santa Ana). Most competitors fly in Friday morning and fly out Sunday night, but we encourage everyone to stay an extra day before or after the tournament. GLADIATOR is five miles from the beach and 15 miles from Disneyland.
Registration is $695, with scholarships available for students in need, especially those traveling from outside California. Since we started the tournament, we've been able to accommodate nearly every admitted student. The fee includes four rounds of competition, a welcome dinner and lunches (for each Gladiator and up to two of her/his family members and coaches), and a GLADIATOR t-shirt.
For 2020, the registration fee Is $495. It does Include food, but it does include a t-shirt for the Gladiator and their Second Chair teammate.